Africa – we all have our own visions of it when we hear the name. What is it really like? What is its history? Previously a guest speaker at the Pattaya City Expats Club had taken everyone on a video tour of his safari.
On Sunday, June 12, Desmond Bishop provided a different perspective to the Club during its regular Sunday meeting at Amari’s Tavern by the Sea restaurant. In his introduction of Desmond, Master of Ceremonies Richard Silverberg noted that he was born in Africa and spent much of his life there. He received his Bachelor degree from Rhodes University and has been a TV and theatre director, radio producer, teacher, lecturer, and author.
Pattaya City Expats were entertained by South African born speaker & author Desmond Bishop. Desmond, writer of ‘Goodbye Africa’ under the pen name Raymond Spenser, shared his life as a child in South Africa, followed by Northern Rhodesia (now Zambia) and then Southern Rhodesia (Now Zimbabwe). Desmond described his first sighting, at 11 years old, of the magnificent Victoria Falls, 1,708 metres wide, as ‘awesome’.
Desmond started his presentation by saying that when he is asked “where are you from,” his answer has been “I’m not sure.” He was born in South Africa and at the age of 11 moved with his family to Northern Rhodesia (present day Zambia), then Southern Rhodesia (present day Zimbabwe), after which he spent time in Britain and Australia. He noted that his book, “Goodbye, Africa…” is an autobiography of his life growing up and living in British colonial Africa. He said he used the fictional name Raymond Spenser for himself and other aliases in lieu of the real names of the people he wrote about as he wanted to protect their identities.
One of Desmond’s favourite places is on the banks of the Zambezi River, Mana Pools, where he spent many days and nights amongst the wildest of the wild. He also detailed many of his encounters with the wild animals of Southern Africa.
He showed many photographs of his early and later life in Africa as he described his adventures and, sometimes, misadventures growing up and living in British colonial Africa and seeing it transition from apartheid to governments led by black Africans. As he showed a picture of Victoria Falls, he described his feelings when he first saw it from his train coach at the age of 11 and to this day considers it an awesome view.
Desmond’s narrative and photographs are too much to include here, but it captivated the Club’s members and guests. Two things were quite obvious. One was Desmond’s love of nature and the wild when he described staying at his favorite place on the Zambezi River surrounded by wildlife. Where, Desmond says, he learned their body language, which was essential to know when being around them meant danger. He showed a picture he captured of a wild elephant noting its posture was meant to scare him off as he took the photograph rather than being the start of an attack. The other was that Desmond had no like or use for apartheid and welcomed the transition to countries led by black leaders with high hopes. However, racial politics resulted in him and his family moving to Australia.
Pattaya City Expats had an excursion on Wednesday the 15th, to visit the neighboring province of Rayong. They visited Lotus Crystal Factory, Suppatra Land Fruit Orchard, and the amazing Tamnanpar Jungle Restaurant just east of Rayong. Here PCEC members & friends sample the many delicious fruits of Suppatra at the peak of the season, including mango, dragon fruit, rambutan, mangosteen, longkong and, last but definitely not least, monthong durian.
In the 1980’s living and working in Sydney, Desmond saw a program on Zimbabwe and decided to call the managing director of ZTV, which led to him returning to Africa and becoming Assistant Head of TV Production with ZTV and setting up of a drama unit for the station. In many ways he considered his time there to be idyllic. Desmond said he met Robert Mugabe who was well educated and, when he first started out as the leader of Zimbabwe, was a person you would respect and follow. But, later as he saw what was happening he decided it was time to leave Africa behind. Desmond concluded his presentation by also giving some observations about his living in Asia. He notes his next book, The Wizard of Zee, tells the story of a boy who meets a wizard who teaches him to believe in himself. You can learn more by visiting his website www.desmondbishop.webs.com.
Richard Silverberg then updated everyone on upcoming events and called on Judith Edmonds to conduct the always informative and often humorous Open Forum where everyone has an opportunity to ask and answer questions, recommend a good restaurant or movie, or sometimes tell a joke.